First Published: 2012-01-03

 

Offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb declares war on France

 

Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of armed Islamist group active in West Africa, threatens France with war.

 

Middle East Online

Six French nationals are held hostage in Sahel

BAMAKO - The Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of an armed Islamist group active in West Africa, has again threatened France with war in a video seen Tuesday by a journalist.

"We again declare war on France, which is hostile to the interests of Islam," Kheirou said in Arabic, wearing dark glasses and with his head wrapped in a turban. "The jihad (holy war) will be exported everywhere it is necessary and for God, we must be ready for anything."

The video also showed images of three Westerners -- a Spanish man and woman and an Italian woman - who were kidnapped late in October in a camp for Sahrawi refugees near Tindouf in southern Algeria.

That kidnapping was claimed by Kheirou's Movement for Unity and Justice in West Africa, which then emerged as a breakaway group from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which originated in Algeria and now has bases in northern Mali.

The last part of the video was concerned with the ideology of the group and its ambitions, particularly "to impose sharia (Islamic law) across the whole of west Africa." Young black fighters were shown calling for "pure and tough" Islam.

Mauritania last week issued an international arrest warrant against Kheirou, also known as Abou Qumqum. The mandate also targetted three other Mauritanians, including Moustapha Ould Limam Chafi, an influential man in west Africa who has notably negotiated the release of Western hostages by AQIM.

All four men are accused of being "influential members" of AQIM, of financing terrorism and of supporting terrorist groups in the Sahel strip of northwest African nations on the southern edge of the Sahara.

This zone is difficult to patrol and monitor and AQIM has carried out many attacks on troops, kidnappings of Westerners and traffic of various kinds, including drugs.

Twelve Europeans, including six French nationals, are currently held hostage in the Sahel.

 

28 killed in IS attack on Huthi rebel leaders in Sanaa

Islamic State 'caliphate' enters second year with more bloodshed

Turkey holds top security meet

Tunisia to arm tourist police after Sousse attack

Qatar concedes 'much more needs to be done' on labour law

Britons death toll in Tunisia attack to soar to 'around 30'

US official says method found for access to suspect Iran sites

Israel to Syria rebels: 'Don't mess with the Druze'

Egypt state prosecutor dead after Cairo bomb attack

Iranians anxious as talks stumble

'Unprecedented situation' for Sudan's journalists

Egypt's state prosecutor injured in bomb attack

UAE woman sentenced to death for killing US teacher

Israel escorts flotilla defying Gaza blockade

Repatriation of two Tunisians once held by CIA

Key confidante of Syria president dies of illness

Libya rival factions sit at same table for first time

Students may have left Sudan for ‘Islamic State’

Tense nuclear talks set to go beyond deadline as differences remain

Kuwait names Saudi man as suicide bomber in mosque attack

Armed police swarm streets of Tunisia beach resorts

Turkey wants more walls on border with Syria

Tunisia unites in pain and shock as hope slips away

Abadi: ‘Unauthorised’ withdrawal of Iraq forces led to loss of Ramadi

Negotiators ‘need to work really hard’ as nuclear talks begin

Iraq arrests Saddam-era official following arduous operation

Syria Kurds take full control of Kobane after killing spree by jihadists

Kuwait tightens security after mosque attack

Thousands of scared tourists scramble to leave Tunisia

Qatar’s Advisory Council rejects labour reform

Tunisia seaside massacre deals heavy blow to tourism

Kuwait to hold mass funeral for IS attack victims

37 dead in Tunisia beach attack

Essebsi: Tunisia cannot respond alone to jihadist threat

Israel urges French Jews to flee after factory attack

Saudi pursuing own nuclear projects to counter Iran

Islamic State claim Shiite mosque bombing in Kuwait

Somali Shebab overrun African Union base

Vatican under fire from Israel

Palestinians submit Israeli war crimes files to ICC

Islamic State massacre civilians in Syria’s Kobane

One decapitated, several injured in France terrorist attack

Egypt, US to hold 'strategic dialogue' in July amid warming ties

Libya rivals return to Morocco for new peace talks

Eritrean asylum seekers protest in Israel